Is charisma overrated?

Sometimes referred to as the “X” factor, what on earth does “having charisma” actually mean?

I think Roger Mavity summed it up nicely in his best-selling book, “Life’s A Pitch”, by describing it as:

…a way of being that radiates a particular sense of excitement and magnetism that occurs apparently regardless of what one says or does. People with charisma seem to fill a room without having to do anything more than just be there.

It seems everyone wants to be charismatic. Who wouldn’t want to wield a kind of super power that allows an individual to stroll into any situation and effortlessly effect an air of confidence about themselves?

The problem I have with this is that, regardless of the breadth and depth of the talent you may have, you’re not always going to be the brightest or most interesting person in the room.

I might be totally confident presenting to a room full of my peers, giving an overview of a particular technology in my area of expertise, but put me in a room full of marketing gurus and I’m much more likely to shrink into the corner and avoid being noticed altogether.

What I’ve come to realise about this, however, is that this is totally OK because of something I’ve observed about myself.

In these kinds of situations where the fear has kicked in and I’ve taken my seat quietly in the corner of the room, my tendency is that I will listen more and take in and consider each point of view with equal merit. This is a great thing because it opens my mind up to a whole new world of learning and stops the cynical part of my brain from causing me to react and putting in my (uninformed) 2 cents.

Upon mature reflection, once I’ve digested all these thoughts and I’ve judiciously separated what I agree with and what point-of-view perhaps had less merit, I can arrive at my own conclusion and perhaps put my own thoughts forward.

I’m not saying charisma is a bad thing (goodness knows the world needs this special kind of performance artist!), I’m just suggesting that perhaps not everyone needs to (or should want to) possess it.

Me personally, I think I’ll learn more in life being an introvert than being an extrovert.

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2 thoughts on “Is charisma overrated?

  1. I like your point of view. One of the hardest things in life is to set aside your own point of view and listen, really listen to someone else speaking.
    The brainy, quick-thinking extroverts usually try to jump in fast with objections or embellishments for the speakers’ argument. But whether you are introvert or extrovert being able to put your own ego and ideas to one side while the other person finishes speaking is a really key skill.
    I was at a rowing regatta at the weekend where I met Sue. She’s CEO of a medical tech startup and frankly, she’s not a very interesting person. But she listened to what I had to say. She REALLY listened. and in my delight at being heard, I completely overlooked asking her about what she was up to in her life/work. And now i feel bad – so I’ll email her immediately.

    • danere says:

      If Sue is anything like me, I am sure she wasn’t offended =). Personally I sometimes find it kind of liberating when I get someone to talk about themselves, as the attention is no longer on me!
      Thanks for your great comment, although I think the extroverts are always going to have a harder time than us introverts sitting back and just listening to the speakers’ argument hehe.

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